Congressional GOP Move to Stop EPA's Cap and Trade Regulations

The House and Senate Republicans both moved forward on Tuesday to stop the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from regulating greenhouse emissions. The Obama administration has started implementing new regulations which tax businesses and raise gas prices for consumers to pursue its climate change agenda.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee passed the Energy Tax Prevention Act (H.R. 910) on Tuesday by a vote of 34-19. Three Democrats on the committee supported the bill: Jim Matheson (Utah), John Barrow (Ga.) and Mike Ross (Ark.).

“The Energy Tax Prevention Act is about gas prices, and stopping the EPA from driving them even higher,” committee Chairman Fred Upton (R.-Mich.) told HUMAN EVENTS exclusively after the vote.

“This legislation is about our economy, and stopping the EPA from imposing the tremendous cost of runaway regulations. And this legislation is about protecting American workers, and stopping the EPA from shipping our jobs overseas,” said Upton.

Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R.-Va.) said on Monday that the EPA bill will be voted on by the full House before the Easter recess.

In the Senate, Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R.-Ky.) introduced the identical bill as an amendment to the small business bill, which was debated on Tuesday.

“In an effort to prevent the administration from adding yet another burdensome, job-destroying regulation through the back door, we’ll have a vote on whether at a time of rising gas prices and growing concern about the scope of government, we should allow the White House to impose new energy regulations through the EPA,” said McConnell.

McConnell’s amendment is the same legislation as the House version. It was originally a bill sponsored by Sen. James Inhofe (R.-Okla.), the ranking Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee. Inhofe’s bill had 43 co-sponsors, including one Democrat, Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.).

“For the last nine years, we have been fighting the Cap and Trade battle and the assumption that catastrophic global warming is going to come from emissions of greenhouse gasses,” Inhofe told reporters.

In June 2009, the House Democrats passed cap-and-trade (or “cap-and-tax”) by seven votes, but the bill died in the Senate. But in December, when the Republicans were about to take control of the House, the Obama administration instituted new EPA regulations to put cap and trade policies into effect.

The EPA used the Clean Air Act as a vehicle for the regulations which impose a tax in the form of carbon emissions to businesses to regulate their greenhouse gasses. Inhofe predicted that, without this legislation, the EPA’s cap-and-trade regulations would increase taxes from $300 to $400 billion a year.

The House’s Energy Tax Prevention Act stops the EPA from using the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gases and impose the taxes, in both current regulations and future efforts. The bill, in essence, prohibits the Obama administration from enacting cap-and-trade policies through regulations, after failing to do so through legislation.

“We will not allow unelected EPA bureaucrats to regulate a backdoor cap-and-trade scheme that the Democrat Congress failed to legislate last year,” Upton told HUMAN EVENTS.

EPA regulations of carbon dioxide emissions that come from coal, oil, and natural gas raise the energy cost to consumers and trickles down to increase the cost of everything from gasoline to groceries.

“Our national unemployment rate hovers just below 9 percent and gasoline is heading toward $4 per gallon, yet the EPA is rampantly pursuing regulations that will hemorrhage jobs and wreak havoc on our economy,” said Upton.

Inhofe also said that the environmental regulations will drive up gasoline prices.

“It’s simple supply and demand. The effort right now by the EPA and this administration is to do away with fossil fuels. If you do away with gas and oil domestically, you’ll have to depend on someone else to run this machine called America,” said Inhofe.

After the Upton bill passes the full House, Republicans will link it together to the Senate amendment as the Inhofe/Upton bill.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D.-N.V.) said on Tuesday that the amendment will have a vote “in due time,” although he does not support it. The Senate is expected to vote on it either this week or after next week’s recess.

“It’s my hope that we’ll vote to stop this power grab in its tracks,” said McConnell.